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Cooper featured at Museum of Western Art

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Kerrville artist Karen Cooper will be the featured artist of the month for February at the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville. The museum is located at 1550 Bandera Highway, Kerrville. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Cooper, a native Californian, moved from New Mexico to Texas in 2012. She says that as she moves east, she continues to find more "west" to paint.
Cooper uses a unique process of soft pastels on black pastel paper to create her one-of-a-kind pieces.
She explains on her website, "The paper is very "toothy," therefore, holds many layers of color and requires no fixatives. The result is depth and luminosity like you've never seen before in 2D work."
Cooper strives to keep the focus on the image, with plenty of negative space to concentrate the eye. Museum glass and custom wood framing further emphasizes the central idea.
Cooper and her husband, a professional photographer, travel "to the pueblos, powwows, rodeos, team roping practices and contests, barns, corrals, back roads and the front roads to gather our materials."
She wants every piece she creates to capture a real event at a particular moment in time.
Cooper's uniquely created originals are all one-of-a-kind, with no reproductions ever produced. The only exceptions are prints made of her pieces for the 2011 Cheyenne Frontier Days Official Poster and for the 2012 CFD Western Art Show Limited Edition Print Artist.
"My works hang in many different collections. When the owner looks at [one of my pieces] they know and can say with pride that this is the only one like it in the world; now that really says something!" said Cooper.
"Black is defined as the absence of light and the absorption of all color, therefore, I believe that my black paper is looking for light and color to come alive. When I start a painting, I fulfill that quest. I try to create the positive of the light with the pure colors of pastels letting the negative of the rich black space make its own case for being left to itself. The key is in knowing what to omit and what to add. That is when my art comes to be, when my composition comes to life," said Cooper. More of her works can be found at
For over 13 years, Cooper has exhibited all over the West, winning many fans and accolades. In 2008 she joined the Western Artists of America taking Gold, Silver and Bronze in Pastels in three shows.
In 2011 The Pearce Museum added her work to their permanent western collection. Cooper has had numerous museum shows and public showings. In 2014, she had her works in eight museum exhibitions, including Cowgirl Up, Cheyenne Frontier Days, the American Quarter Horse Museum and the Phippen Museum.
Known for action and movement in her paintings, as well as the drama of the negative space that is her signature, Cooper's paintings give the collector the best of the abstract, in the negative space, but also the best of realism in the actual subject.